Sony Group Corporation, or Sony, has unveiled its “Sony Innovation Fund: Africa,” a $10 million initiative aimed at backing early-stage startups in Africa’s entertainment industry. This includes startups in gaming, music, movies, and content distribution.
In a strategic move, Sony has also revealed a collaboration with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a leading global development institution focused on the private sector, actively investing in emerging countries and startup companies in Africa. Beyond just financial backing, this partnership aims to bolster Africa’s entertainment industry by leveraging their respective strengths.
Toshimoto Mitomo, Executive Deputy President and CSO of Sony Group Corporation, expressed confidence in the collaboration with IFC, known for its strong presence in emerging markets. “Through the activities of Sony Innovation Fund: Africa,” Mitomo stated, “we hope to accelerate the growth of the African entertainment industry and contribute to the progress and development of the region by providing opportunities for collaboration with the entertainment businesses within the Group.”
Sony Innovation Fund has a history of supporting its portfolio companies by fostering collaboration, including providing Sony-owned technologies, joint development, and business alliances. With the “Sony Innovation Fund: Africa,” Sony intends to continue these value-added investments, with potential expansion based on its progress.
The partnership with IFC is significant, as Makhtar Diop, Managing Director of IFC, notes, “This partnership will harness IFC’s expertise in emerging markets and our extensive investments in the digital landscape. Sony’s exceptional track record as a leading global player in entertainment, media, and technology positions us well to contribute to the economic growth of the creative sector.”
Africa’s entertainment sector has faced challenges in raising funding, particularly in comparison to fintech startups. Only a few, like South Africa’s Carry1st, have successfully secured funding for their startups, notably raising $27 million pre-Series B earlier this year.
Data from research firm Newzoo predicts that the African gaming industry will be worth approximately $1 billion by 2024. In 2022, games sold in the region generated $862.8 million in revenue, marking an 8.7% year-on-year increase.
Tom Wijman, Lead Games Analyst at Newzoo, highlights the potential of the African games market, noting that it has outperformed the global average for the last three years. However, the region also presents unique challenges. Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 7% of the global player audience, but its players contribute less than half a percent of global gaming revenues.
This $10 million fund will provide much-needed support for entrepreneurs in the sector. Gen Tsuchikawa, CEO of Sony Ventures, stated that Sony’s entertainment business group is actively exploring and supporting young, talented creators in Africa. This fund will aim to further support these creators and the growth of the entertainment business in Africa through various means, including technology, collaborations, intellectual property, marketing support, and more.